Dungeon Key Changes Kills Content But Fits Monetization

Yesterday the devs announced a massive change to the dungeon key reward structure that will go live with Sea of Moving Ice on November 8th. So far players could review dungeon chests that required a key to open and then decide whether or not to spend the key on the loot they see. With the new change, the key gets auto-consumed and the loot acquired no matter what. The announcement quickly drew a colossal shitstorm with hundreds of postings in a matter of hours. So let’s talk about it!

Why is this a big thing?

First of all we need to understand why this change is such a big thing. The unintended “preview feature” was a major perk to all keys. Thanks to the beloved RNG additional dungeon chests are hardly worth the key most of the time. So players were able to generate additional chests by running content and only spend keys on a valuable reward. This was especially true for the Legendary Dragon Key, but of course also the effort vs. reward of campaign keys has to be weighted against other options. If you can bank on the fact that Valindra’s Tower Key is at least worth 3,000 RAD of Salvage and some Resonance Stones (and a chance at a Amulet of Valindra’s Favor), it’s much easier to justify making it.

Bug or Nerf?

Devs decline the decline option!
Devs decline the decline option!

So here comes the conspiracy. The devs officially call this one a bugfix, because the chest system was never supposed to work that way. Even if this is actually the story behind the change, the devs must know that the bug is in the game for such a long time that the fix does actually feel like a nerf to anyone. So show some tits and balls and call it that way. Add that some random international Community Manager has been picked to carry out the news in Andy’s absence and it’s terrible communication once again from PWE and Cryptic.

Who can really blame the players for going off on this? If this indeed was a bug, why was there even a decline option? And why didn’t they communicate it a long time ago? More than that: If this was a bug that actually hindered the devs to design appropriate chest rewards, why didn’t they fix it a long time ago? It stinks and I can fully understand anyone thinking that the devs did not deliver the full truth here. In the end the more free keys you have to spend on the chests, the earlier you need to turn to ZEN options.

Farming is most affected

Let’s talk some impact folks. Campaign keys are getting devalued for the reasons I stated, but most of them are not being used anyway. Since the changes of Mod 10 the go-to dungeon in terms of Salvage and rough Astral Diamonds is Temple of the Spider. Tier 1 dungeons are having a hard time outperforming Tier 2s even with the additional chest. So the effort vs reward of investing additional time to get keys for daily runs is just not there. Sharandar and Tyranny of Dragons have more lucrative options in the campaign with the Fey Blessing Enchantment, Rank 8 and the Lesser Dragon’s Hoard Enchantment anyway. And is anybody really grinding through Icewind Dale for Kessell’s Retreat Key? So whatever daily farm routine you had, you are probably still getting the same amount of ADs from it.

It’s not quite the same with Underdark and Maze Engine content. These +4 and +5 Rings do not come in bunches. Players are actually farming Demogorgon, Prophecy of Madness and Castle Never for additional chances at them. If there’s not a decent Ring in the chests, better luck next time. With the new changes you can exactly run one Skirmish or normal Demogorgon and one epic Demogorgon or Castle Never per day and that’s it. No more free chests for you, because you have to use your two keys. That’s insane and a major nerf to farming. What endgame players with VIP probably want to do is run a CN/EDEMO, two ETOS, one ESOT/KR and one NDEMO/POM/TODG. At first glance this seems to be the best rotation. Then darkness ensues.

It fits their monetization

What I find amazing is that it probably won’t even boost sales of Legendary Dragon Keys. I personally only bought them because I could take a look at any chest with them. Do you really think people will buy them for a negligible chance at a major reward? That’s more expensive than the lockbox lottery! With each key you are throwing 25,000 AD in the chest and in most cases get like 3,000 – 5,000 back. Not happening.

Progression in Neverwinter
Visualized daily progression

The change however does fit their overall monetization strategy. They monetize grind and grind means stalling the game in certain areas. I graphed the daily progress of Neverwinter over a year ago and it’s more valid than ever. After a certain point, you get very little progression out of your playing time. At the start of the session you can do your daily dungeons, earn all sorts of RAD and Salvage, your Dragon’s Hoards and Wanderer’s Fortune proc. But then when all daily keys are used, the RAD limit is reached and the ICDs are active, you hit the wall. So far you could at least still farm dungeons and take a look at chests, but this will soon be gone as well.

More adjustments are needed now

I’m additionally amazed that the devs won’t make additional adjustments to the loot structure. I mean this is not a recent development. The “bug” has been out there since forever. So you can’t tell me that this is kind of an emergency change that they have to roll out or something weird happens with the economy. This should have been part of an integral change. Their approach of nerf now, monitor and adjust later is just sickening. They never throw you the carrot prior to beating you with the stick first.

I bet we are going to see better rewards from chests and I’ll dig into some more ideas at a later point. But today is not the day for solutions. Today we just throw all the hamsters we can find at whoever is responsible for this.


j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

9 thoughts on “Dungeon Key Changes Kills Content But Fits Monetization

  • October 19, 2016 at 7:35 am

    When I open mailbox/car/door/etc the key not disappear. Its a bug?

    Or Dragons changing locks all the time in next mod, so i need a new key?

  • October 19, 2016 at 8:06 am

    fukem, i’m not spending another cent of my hard earn money.. it’s frikken digital goods and no man power is required beyond the initial creation and still these assholes want $10 for a coal ward.. wdf man.. greed will see this game die and deserved death..

    • October 21, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      I havent bought one to this day. 3 or 4 coal wards are a whole new game. And my time and money in somebody else’s company/pocket.

  • October 19, 2016 at 10:33 am

    You forgot to mention there will also be 3 chests to open st the end of new dungeon for a chance at new weapons. I think that is where there cash grab off of the keys will fit in as many might buy them to have more chances for weapons

  • October 20, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Same old crap , different day, this has been boiling over for weeks really, its not just the keys, since mod 10 grind/gating introduction and removal of gateway and its services, people really are not happy, this is just a tipping point thats all, to the rest of the garbage they threw on us for a couple months now.

  • October 20, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    I’m on ps4, so have just started playing mod 10 (I think, still new to the game) and I was ready to give benefit where there was doubt over the changes to Invocation AD. The more I’ve played since the update, the more I see how it could have been a way to limit the ADex for ZEN. After reading this, I’m seriously considering going back to ESO “full time.” If the devs are going to make changes for the sake of making an extra buck, own it. Don’t bitch out and call a feature a bug because fear of upsetting the player base. It’s more upsetting to be lied to.

  • October 20, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Neverwinter has been on a downward spiral since they fired nearly all of their original dev team and brought in at least one personality who cares nothing for the players only for shaking the pennies out of everyone’s pockets. At least once in awhile you had a chance to get a coal ward out of a daily box, don’t ever seem to get anymore at all, then the coal wards were for sale in the tradebar store which is fine if you ask me because you had to buy keys to get tradebars…they were losing nothing. They’ve also messed up the other components for artifact upgrades that were at one time predictably available in dread ring…but no more. I have been playing black desert for several months, if they screw something up everyone gets goodies as apology, if the servers are down for bad patches there are apology goodies. If you play a lot there are loyalty rewards, yes the client is thirty bucks but they give you so much stuff you are glad to pay it and the game is structured so that you can setup your own support system to make in game currency from running missions, crafting, foraging and killing world bosses. I’m not sure what I think of their gear setup yet and there is no player to player trading only the marketplace but in their own way I think they have a good balance to control third party crap and they control the prices in the marketplace so there is no undercutting etc. Neverwinter can still pull it out of the fire but they need to build a stable team with the vision not keep firing people and making decisions based on looting my wallet over making a good game that everyone will want to keep playing. I’ve been playing since before sharandar was released I just think they’re making way too many changes too fast, people just get finished regearing and suddenly all that they just worked for and laid out cash for is now not the BIS anymore. Unfortunately I think they seem to be making a lot of their decisions based on how much cash they think they can get out of the players. Taking almost all the dungeons out not that long ago was a bad move, as was removing the draw for doing the dungeons (the set pieces) they release a new class people build them and like them but then they cut off their balls because of a vocal minority (the paladins for example). The scourge wizards have been screwed since they killed the temptation tree and changed how life steel works. I loved my regen cleric but now that hastening light no longer exists what good is she? Whomever is making the decisions right now is the wrong person(s) to be making them, find a successful game dev team and pay them a good salary to come in and straighten out your shit before you kill the game completely.

  • December 28, 2016 at 12:54 am

    I just went balls to the wall with this game a few days ago and am already level 60. I really really fucking hate myself and knew I was gonna regret it but I dropped 60 on this game… So freaking disappointed first thing I noticed was the money grabbing BS that got my money and others… Just BS everywhere and I was hoping as a DnD fan to see some things and get to experience them….. let down to say the least. The references and cameos only go so far. The key thing is absurd. In eso at least I felt like I did something but I’ve been reading articles on the game and seemed I joined NWO extremely late. Grinded out to see Boo and Salvatore’s characters….. does not do them justice to make them into lame gimmick. Game is meh but dammit Im gonna make the most of my money spent!

  • January 31, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    First they wiped out my GF tank in PVE mainly over PVP whiners, now I cannot even farm for drops without spending my hard earned money? I like the game, but every nerf makes me closer to leaving.. Greed will kill this game soon enough I guess. A great point that shows ARC full of Sh@t is “bugs” do not have a button that says decline.. just sick that I find a game I like playing and they work so hard to kill it for me. I am a very very very, unlucky player never got a single drop.. and now I have to pay to keep trying? No thanks

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